Bureau of Reclamation Banner
Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Lois Conway
(308) 345-1020

Released On: December 13, 2011

SEMA Construction Gears Up for Red Willow Dam Modifications
GRAND ISLAND, Neb.-- The Bureau of Reclamation has announced that SEMA Construction of Centennial, Colo., has initiated construction activities at Red Willow Dam. The company is moving equipment to the site this week and will begin hauling and stockpiling materials. Excavation of the dam is expected to start in February.

Additional construction activities will include installation of a filter and drainage system and construction of a berm and buttress over the downstream slope of the dam. Modifications to the dam are expected to be substantially complete in late 2012. Minor construction activities, including road repairs, will continue through 2013.

For safety reasons, access to the construction site and travel across the dam will be off limits to the public during the construction period. A small observation area at the southwest end of the dam will be constructed, and accessible by county roads from the south.

In October 2009, Reclamation discovered a sinkhole at Red Willow Dam. Subsequent investigations revealed extensive cracks through the embankment at several locations on the dam. Reclamation lowered the operating level of the reservoir to the lowest possible level to ensure the safety of the structure until repairs could be completed. Congressional approval of the Safety of Dams modifications was completed in August 2011, and Reclamation awarded a $15.3 million construction contract for repairs to SEMA Construction in September 2011.

Red Willow Dam is an earthfill embankment with a structural height of 126 feet that, when in operation, forms a reservoir of 86,630 acre-feet. An ungated concrete spillway is located in the right abutment. An outlet works through the base of the dam provides for river and irrigation releases for downstream diversions.

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